In 1998, as the State of Israel turned fifty years old, Charles Krauthammer penned his seminal essay, “At Last, Zion.” Wide-ranging and provocative, the piece takes an unvarnished look at the existential crisis of Diaspora Jewry as well as what Krauthammer calls the “Israeli exception” to the assimilationist trend. However, the re-centering of Jewish life in Israel moves Krauthammer to worry about the fate of the Jewish people should the unthinkable occur and Israel—small and surrounded by enemies who wish for its destruction—disappear. Yet, though it contemplates a world in which the worst comes to pass, “At Last, Zion” is not a lament so much as a call to action to all committed Jews to defend the Jewish State. For the stakes, Krauthammer ably shows, could not be higher.
Israel is different. In Israel the great temptation of modernity— assimilation—simply does not exist. Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.
More about: • America, Israel, and the Middle East • Zionism
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